Survey: Lack of know-how hampering net-zero progress from businesses

Ever more UK businesses are targeting net-zero by, or ahead of, the Government's 2050 deadline. But half of businesses with net-zero targets are struggling to plan to deliver against them, a new survey has found.

Survey: Lack of know-how hampering net-zero progress from businesses

All UK businesses will be required to reach net-zero by 2050

Conducted by facilities management and professional services giant Mitie, the survey asked representatives from 500 businesses of all sizes and sectors about their organisations’ carbon reduction plans.

Promisingly, more than one-third (36%) said their firm either has a net-zero strategy or is planning to develop one.

But, of this cohort, almost half (47%) said they have not begun to develop a plan. When asked what the biggest barriers are to developing – and delivering against – a net-zero plan, common answers included a lack of time or resources and a lack of in-house expertise.

The survey also analysed when businesses were deadlining their net-zero ambitions, concluding that the vast majority hope to achieve carbon neutrality ahead of the national legal target. Around half (48%) are targeting 2025, one in ten are targeting 2020 and a further 21% are targeting 2030.

“It’s amazing to see the ambition of UK businesses, however, we’re surprised that so many believe they will reach net-zero carbon emissions by just 2025, as this is an incredibly bold target and far further ahead than what we are hearing from the market,” Mitie Energy’s managing director Peter Nisbett said.

“With only half of these companies actually having a plan in place to reach their goal, if these ambitions are going to be achieved, action needs to be taken now.”

Ambition into action

To that end, the survey also explored which actions businesses have already taken. More than half of the respondents said their business had already begun reducing resource inefficiencies and reducing energy consumption in their offices. Educating staff (44%), sourcing renewable energy (39%) and reducing transport emissions (39%) were also found to be popular tactics.

Less popular was offsetting, which less than one-fifth (19%) of respondents said their business had invested in. Offsetting is widely regarded as a quick way to reach net-zero, or to tackle emissions from hard-to-abate sources such as aviation or heat – but concerns about its effectiveness are rife.

The least popular action was found to be setting Science-Based Targets in line with the Paris Agreement’s 2C or 1.5C trajectories. Just one in ten respondents said they had had their carbon targets rubber-stamped by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) or were targeting SBTi approval within the next 24 months.

Mitie Energy’s Nisbett urged firms which have not yet taken their first step towards developing a net-zero strategy to baseline carbon intensity across all parts of the business.

edie Explains: Net-zero business

edie recently published a free-to-download edie explains guide that helps sustainability and energy professionals understand exactly how they should adopt net-zero strategies for their businesses; what the benefits are; what the key considerations should be when doing so.

The guide, produced in association with Centrica Business Solutions, can be downloaded here

Sarah George

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